The Bundesliga returns from the Christmas break and we’ve decided to kick off our Friday £10,000 Pick 8 with an intriguing match up between Bayer Leverkusen v Bayern Munich. Martin Laurence has previewed his syndicate for us, and you can get involved here.
Bayer Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich – X2
The Bundesliga gets back in action on Friday night with a real test for league leaders Bayern, who are 11 points clear despite being some way off their supreme best. Facing Leverkusen at present is an unenviable task, with Heiko Herrlich’s side on a 12-game unbeaten streak, and yet to lose at home all season.
That said, the fact that Jupp Heynckes side remain the dominant force in Germany despite a period of relative stagnation highlights that the quality elsewhere has arguably taken a tumble.
Sheffield United vs Sheffield Wednesday – 1X
The festive period wasn’t a good one for either of the Sheffield rivals but United are still very much the stronger side right now, ahead of Wednesday by 12 points.
With the home advantage I’d expect Chris Wilder’s side to pile more pressure on the Owls, who began life under new boss Jos Luhukay with a draw against League Two outfit Carlisle. The visitors have won just one of their last ten in the league too and are unlikely to add to that victory in the derby.
Cardiff vs Sunderland – 1
After a superb start to the season there is some growing concern amongst the Cardiff fans that the wheels are coming off in their bid for promotion. A run of four consecutive defeats has seen them drop to third but a match against a confidence-stricken, goal-shy Sunderland side should come as a boost.
The Bluebirds’ defence remains a strong suit and should shut out their visitors, potentially needing just a single goal to arrest their slide.
Crystal Palace vs Burnley – X
It’s been a tough spell of fixtures for Burnley, whose sensational season is at risk of petering out, but they’ll hope to get back on track against a weakened Palace side.
Hodgson’s men played two days later in the cup last time out, and not only lost in their fierce rivalry with Brighton but suffered injury blows to boot, with Andros Townsend and Jeffrey Schlupp now sidelined and leaving the Eagles clipped on the wings. This may become a scrappy, physical battle as a result, and a low scoring draw seems highly likely.
Watford vs Southampton – 1X
As far as the form guide is concerned, over the last six games these two sides are the worst in the Premier League right now. Saints have dropped rapidly down the table and are above the relegation zone on goal difference alone, without a win in nine, while Watford have picked up just four points in the same timeframe.
The Hornets still don’t have problems finding the net, which cannot be said of Southampton, so a home win is most likely.
Chelsea vs Leicester – 1
Leicester’s title winning midfield pairing may well line up against them at Stamford Bridge, with the hosts looking to improve upon an underwhelming game in the Carabao Cup semi-finals in midweek.
The Foxes have been hit and miss themselves of late and while I think there will be goals at both ends, Chelsea’s home form in the league has been fantastic recently, winning each of their last seven.
Nottingham Forest vs Aston Villa – 1X2
Were it not for the manner of their performances and results in the FA Cup last weekend Villa may have been narrow favourites for this one but the hosts’ morale will be sky high after a win over Arsenal.
Steve Bruce’s side won emphatically in the league last time out but then lost to Peterborough, albeit with a much changed lineup, so this one is tough to call, particularly given that it will be Aitor Karanka’s first game at the Forest helm.
Tottenham vs Everton – 1
After a solid start under Sam Allardyce things have come to a halt since the turn of the year for Everton and a trip to face Spurs won’t make things any easier.
The visitors may line up with new striker Cenk Tosun but it’s the man at the other end that the Toffees fans will be most concerned about, with Harry Jane scoring eight in his last six at home.